Bike Advocates to SFMTA: Time to Fill the Gaps on Lower Market Street

This section of Market Street betwen 8th and 9th still hasn't been painted green or protected with safe-hit posts. Photos by Bryan Goebel.

This section of Market Street betwen 8th and 9th still hasn't been painted green or protected with safe-hit posts. Photos by Bryan Goebel.

Nearly five months after the SFMTA installed the green protected bike lanes on Market Street, which most agree has been a successful trial, bike advocates are urging the agency to finish the job and plug in the gaps from 8th Street to Octavia Boulevard.

“I heard from [SFMTA CEO] Nat Ford Market Street is a top priority. We heard from the Mayor on Bike to Work Day that Market Street is a top priority, but the question is, when is it going to happen?” asked Renee Rivera, the acting executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. She noted the Mayor even signed the SFBC’s petition calling for a continuous bikeway from Octavia to the Embarcadero.

The green bike lanes are part of a pilot project implemented a year ago to divert private automobiles off Market Street with mandatory right-turns at 10th and 6th streets. By all accounts, the trials have dramatically improved conditions for transit, pedestrians and bike riders. Data compiled by the Great Streets Project [pdf] show greater volumes of pedestrians and bicyclists.

When asked why the remaining bike lanes on Lower Market haven’t been painted green or protected, Bond Yee, the SFMTA Sustainable Streets Director, voiced concerns that have been raised about bike lanes in general.

“We’ve had some issues with some of the businesses in terms of their deliveries, they were going to separate the lane with these markers, and they don’t have access to the store fronts, so we are trying to work that detail with them,” said Yee. “We’ve also had some issues from some of the seniors, and disabled community, because a lot of them use taxis for access into those areas, and now they can’t pull over to the curb because of the separation, so some of our enforcement folks are getting a little overzealous I think in terms of enforcing strictly that no pulling over into those areas, so we need to work some of those minor issues out too.”

Yee also questioned whether paint was the best marking material to use, complaining that fixed-gear bikes are leaving skid marks in the bike lanes.

“Is water-based green paint the way to go, or are there some better materials that we can use like epoxy, or thermal epoxy, or some blend with aggregates and so forth and some colorized asphalt?” he asked. “But those are not that simple. You can’t just say, ‘Let’s just do it’.”

Those excuses aren’t good enough for Rivera.

“There is really no reason for why we can’t have a date for when this is going to happen,” she said. “Let’s really do this first trial right and have it extend immediately from 8th Street to Octavia. That’s really the trial that we should have done on Bike to Work Day.”

Rivera was also concerned that the “Lane Closed” sign had recently been removed from Market Street at 10th Street. SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose said it was taken down because it was damaged. He could not say when it would be replaced with a new sign.

The missing or incomplete bike infrastructure on Lower Market Street (from SFBC):

  • Eastbound
    • Octavia to Valencia Street: Bike lane separated by soft-hit posts and colored green. MISSING
    • 12th Street to Van Ness: Bike lane separated by soft-hit posts and colored green plus “Bike Box” at Van Ness. MISSING
    • 10th to 9th Street: Bike lane separated by soft-hit posts and colored green. NOT COMPLETE
  • Westbound
    • Grove/Hyde (8th) to Larkin/Hayes Street (9th) – Bike lane separated by soft-hit posts and colored green for first half, then colored bike lane for 2nd half (dashed color in dashed area). MISSING.
    • Polk/Fell (10th) to Van Ness Avenue – Bike lane separated by soft-hit posts and colored green first half, then colored bike lane second half. NOT COMPLETE
    • Gough/Haight to Octavia Street – Colored bike lane first half. Bike lane separated by soft-hit posts and colored green second half. MISSING

The "Lane Closed" sign has been removed on Market Street at 10th, and sure enough, drivers see it as an open invitation to violate prohibited right turns.

The "Lane Closed" sign has been removed on Market Street at 10th, and sure enough, drivers see it as an open invitation to ignore mandatory right turns.